The Non-Sequitur Follies: Pan Am House

1 Feb

In the opening salvo of the non-sequitur follies, we had Al Coppola threatening to tear down the little white Pan Am house in a fit of pique over the fact that his friend’s restaurant was denied permission to install an awning.

Pretty much all of Buffalo, except for a misguided few, gave a collective, “huh?”

But Al has changed his mind. He doesn’t want to tear down the house as a pointless response to the goings on at the Stillwater Cafe. Instead, he wants to move it.

He wants to move the house to Columbus Parkway, near the Peace Bridge.

Poor little white house – a pawn in a chess game Coppola is playing with an imaginary friend.

Why would he want to take what is ostensibly an historic house away from the area – the site of the Pan Am Expo – that makes it historic in the first place?

Why, to make some kind of point about Peace Bridge expansion!

If planners tear down some homes in the Columbus Parkway area to make way for the bridge project, then they’ll also have to tear down his “historic treasure,” Coppola said.

In the meantime, he vowed to push to have the building, which was built in the 1850s, designated a city landmark.

City officials have informed Coppola that any plan to move the vacant building would require permits from numerous departments.

Coppola, a former Buffalo Common Council member and state senator, said he’s not concerned that critics will brand him an obstructionist. He claimed the Peace Bridge expansion as it is currently proposed would be one of the most “colossal mistakes” the region has ever made. He said he feels compelled to take steps that might prod planners to revise blueprints.

Of course! Why, if the planners are perfectly willing to tear down a whole swath of neighborhood, this one little white house – outside of its historical context – will make them think twice, by gum!

Yesterday, Coppola had a letter to the editor published in the News that basically said, “ok, yeah, diesel is much cleaner now, what with ultra-low sulfur fuel and particulate traps, but what about the brake dust!??!?!!! It’s got asbestos in it!!!!!!

Oh, and also he calls PBA director Ron Reinas”[t]his interloper from Port Colborne, Ont.” who “has an agenda that needs to be exposed.” Rather than expose it, Coppola is satisfied merely to hurl the insinuation without follow-through, evidence, or back-up of any kind:

Who are the friends of the authority who will really benefit from more dust, more fumes, more trucks?

Now, I don’t know if brake dust emissions have ever been measured or subjected to testing in any way, but my gut tells me that’s a losing argument.

Given that it costs an awful lot of money to move a building – money that Coppola probably doesn’t have, or doesn’t want to spend – can we think of some more non-sequiture uses for that pretty little bargaining chip on Delaware?

Maybe we can threaten to throw it in the Lake if the state doesn’t pass the Great Lakes Compact.

Maybe we can threaten to move it next to the Skyway to demand that they both be demolished.

Maybe we can place it, stud by stud, inside the Central Terminal to highlight its plight.

Maybe it’s fine just where it is, in cloudcuckooland.

Any more ideas? I mean, the sky’s the limit.

19 Responses to “The Non-Sequitur Follies: Pan Am House”

  1. Derek J. Punaro February 1, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    Al Coppola is trying his damnedest to steal the “Preservation Freak” crown away from Tim Tielman. I think we’ve got a race on.

  2. Pauldub February 1, 2008 at 1:47 pm #

    Two different categories though. Lawsuit and dragging a building around…

  3. al-alo February 1, 2008 at 1:55 pm #

    Not that im a fan of the peace bridge plaza, but all this has me worried about Als mental health.

    first off, the pan am house was at best an support structure, with little of the architectual flourish of the pan am as a whole. While it is worth preserving, it isnt the Darwin Martin House, nor is it the Richardson Towers.

    secondly, moving the building would be very very very very expensive.

    Thirdly, it would remove the building from the context of the Pan Am grounds, futher reducing its historic value.

    finally, who holds a building hostage? that is just silly. its like a child holding their breath to get their way.

  4. al-alo February 1, 2008 at 2:00 pm #

    This was fwd my way:

    Alfred T.Coppola
    1952 Delaware Avenue
    PO Box 67
    Buffalo, NY 14213

    January 23, 2008

    Assemblyman Sam Hoyt
    936 Delaware Ave., Suite 005
    Buffalo, NY 14209

    Dear Sam,

    I read with great interest the letter that was sent to
    Commissioner Richard Tobe in regards to my little white Pan Am
    House, and in how you were outraged with my capricious threats
    regarding it. Sam, let me tell you a little story.

    I was born down on 58 Dante Place, just across from Memorial
    Auditorium and parked behind me, one block away, was the
    Canadiana known as the Crystal Beach Boat. At that time I was
    10 years old and didn’t know too much about eminent domain. But
    I did know sorrow, because I watched my parents and grandparents
    forced to vacate through eminent domain a building they loved.
    We all had to move out. We started over and bought a house on
    Hudson Street, where I used to play baseball on the corner of
    Busti and Porter Avenue and could to walk to Front Park and the

    Through the years Sam as I got older, married and raised my
    three children, I got into the restaurant business and named the
    restaurant Shane’s after my son whom you know. Then one day in
    the 1970’s the government came along and started its Light Rail
    Transit Project. It was six miles long, costing 100 million
    dollars per mile. They didn’t use eminent domain to take my
    building or the many other thriving businesses along Main
    Street. They didn’t have to. The once wholesome district
    became infected with a creeping blight, slowly choking the
    business community and forcing me to close Shane’s in 1982 which
    left me in severe debt. This was the impetus that drove me into
    public life, to stop and to correct the destruction of our dear

    Sam, I want to bring you some peace of mind (something you are
    not willing to give the residents in the Columbus Parkway
    community). I have no intention of tearing down my little white
    Pan Am House but I do plan to move it from where it stands now.

    I am going to move my little white house, originally built in
    the 1850’s, to a property on Columbus Parkway, a beautiful,
    vibrant community looming under the umbrella of condemnation
    with which I’ve been all too familiar since boyhood.

    I am going to move my little white house because (as only one of
    the two buildings still extant from the 1901 Exposition) I think
    the West Side will be the perfect resting place for such a
    historical landmark. The little white Pan Am House will be
    right at home along side an Olmsted Park, the street’s many
    architecturally significant houses, and will be at the heart of
    an energetic community that my entire family, beginning with my
    grandparents, loved so much. It will overlook the fields that I
    played baseball in as a kid and the River that I swam in.

    What is the final hurrah for the political treatment of such a
    historic treasure? I think it should be an integral part of our
    lives, and the lives of our children, and the lives of our
    grandchildren. I think it should enrich in this beautiful
    Columbus Parkway neighborhood and be a beacon for the entrance
    to our lovely City of Buffalo.

    Sam, since you were so initially outraged at my mention of the
    fact that I would tear it down, I hope you will now join me in
    supporting preservation of not only the Pan Am House but all the
    houses now endangered on Columbus Parkway. The wrecking ball
    should not crush one blade of grass in this historic
    neighborhood. Our legacy as government officials will thrive or
    die with the demolition of this community.

    I’ll be waiting to hear from you, Sam.

    Best Regards,
    Alfred T. Coppola

    Dear Commissioner Tobe: Thank you for sharing with me your
    detailed response to Mr. Coppola’s most recent correspondence.
    The people of the City of Buffalo are fortunate to have such an
    exceptional public servant working for their city. Sincerely,
    Sam Hoyt


    From: Tobe,Richard []
    Sent: Sat 1/26/2008 2:46 PM
    To: Alfred Coppola

    Subject: RE: Sam Hoyt From Alfred Coppola (#1634)

    Dear Al,

    You applied for a demolition permit (application # 113466) and
    an asbestos removal permit (application # 113464) on October 22,
    2007 for the property at 1950 Delaware Ave. In accordance with
    the Buffalo Charter and Code, the demolition application was
    referred to the Buffalo Preservation Board for its comments. The
    Preservation Board advised me by letter dated November 16, 2007
    that it recommended that a demolition permit not be issued. I
    wrote to you on December 12, 2007 advising you of the
    Preservation Board’s recommendation and of two letters that I
    had received. One letter was from the New York State
    Preservation Office and one letter was from Assemblyman Hoyt. I
    enclosed all three letters with my letter to you. I advised you
    that I was “considering if I should issue or deny the issuance
    of a demolition permit for 1950 Delaware Ave?” I advised you
    that I wanted to provide you with an opportunity to comment
    prior to my decision. You called me on December 28, 2007 and
    indicated that you had received my letter, you were not prepared
    to discuss the matter, but you would schedule an appointment. No
    such appointment has been scheduled. As you know, we have not
    issued a demolition permit.

    On January 24, copied me on an e-mail that you sent to
    Assemblyman Hoyt in which you advised him that you “?have no
    intention of tearing down my little white Pan Am House, but I do
    plan to move it from where it stands now.”

    As a result, through this communication, I officially notify you
    that your application for a demolition permit (#113466) at 1950
    Delaware Avenue is hereby revoked at your request.

    Please advise me on the status of your application for an
    asbestos removal permit. This permit will have to be closed out
    or cancelled.

    Should you wish to move the house, it will be necessary for you
    to apply for the required permits. I wish to remind you that the
    movement of a structure is a complex and potentially dangerous
    matter that requires the coordination of a number of agencies
    and the acquisition of a number of permits from both this
    department and other city departments. It might also be
    necessary to remove overhead utility service. This would require
    the permission of the owner of such utilities.

    Should you wish to demolish the property instead of moving it,
    it will be necessary for you to reapply for a permit since
    permit #113466 is revoked.

    As you no doubt know, there are many in our community who
    believe the property at 1950 Delaware Ave is of importance to
    our cultural and historical past. We expect that the property
    will be maintained in accordance with applicable law. Any
    attempt to move it or demolish it will receive the scrutiny
    which such an action deserves.


    Richard Tobe

  5. Russell February 1, 2008 at 2:17 pm #

    “I was born down on 58 Dante Place, just across from Memorial
    Auditorium and parked behind me, one block away, was the
    Canadiana known as the Crystal Beach Boat. At that time I was
    10 years old and didn’t know too much about eminent domain.”

    Al Coppola was 10 years old when he was born?

  6. hank February 1, 2008 at 2:17 pm #


    that Al C. should wig out over this—Destroy a Pan Am building because some eatery has been denied an application for a covered awning?

    No wonder the city continues to slowly circle the bowl.

  7. reflip February 1, 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    I propose floating the building, like a kite, in the air space over the land where the building currently sits to raise awareness of air rights and historic preservation.

  8. steve February 1, 2008 at 4:43 pm #

    Hard to imagine that Alfred T. was, even for a little while, a state representative.

    Does anyone know the purpose of this building during the Pan Am? I can’t imagine it was any sort of key element, since it was built in the 1850s (according to A.T.C.) and the Pan Am construction came several decades later.

    It’s future use? Storage shed for tinfoil hats worn by the growing lunatic fringe of WNY.

  9. Andrew Kulyk February 1, 2008 at 5:14 pm #

    I’m surprised that Alfie didn’t come up with this hair brained scheme back in 1985 when he was on the Common Council. Back then he was lead obstructionist trying to move Heaven and Earth to prevent Dunn Tire park (nee Pilot Field) from getting built. One of the tactics being employed then by Coppola and the Tielman crowd was to try and find some historical significance to any one of the few rundown structures on the site, have then declared historic shrines thus getting the ballpark plans killed.

    Gratefully these morons were not successful. Of course, come Opening Day 1988 guess who was trying to horn in on the ribbon cutting and get front and center into the photo opp?

    This guy is a few pieces of chicken short of a picnic basket. Amazing how he still manages to get the pub; like that cock Tielman, just ignore Coppola and he goes away.

  10. Kevin Pritchard February 1, 2008 at 10:38 pm #

    What’s the big whoop about this little building anyway? Now, if someone were to add some first-floor retail and convert it to a mixed-use space, well, then I could see the issue.

  11. Pauldub February 1, 2008 at 10:46 pm #

    I believe the structure was part of the Native American exhibit wher souvenirs were made or sold. Don’t know for sure, that’s what I had read somewhere…

  12. mike hudson February 2, 2008 at 1:49 am #

    sen. al’s such a card!

  13. mike hudson February 3, 2008 at 1:56 am #

    looks like he keeps up his property too! isn’t that artemis & the stag over his left shoulder?

  14. mike hudson February 3, 2008 at 1:57 am #

    no, his other left shoulder.

  15. Austin February 3, 2008 at 1:14 pm #

    Al is clearly hungry for attention. I am surprised the sNews continues to give him front local page recognition for his non-sense when so many other tremendous/positive matters are developing in the city.

  16. Dan February 4, 2008 at 9:38 pm #

    Just for the record – I ran twice against this guy…and lost!

    I am going to go curl up with Bill Belichek and Tom Brady and have myself a good cry…

  17. JOEY February 6, 2008 at 6:45 pm #


  18. angieraskin July 7, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    Well i also agree with Austin that there are so many tremendous matter are developing in the city.I think Al is doing wrong.

    addiction recovery net

  19. angieraskin July 7, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    Well i also agree with Austin that there are so many tremendous matter are developing in the city.I think Al is doing wrong.

    addiction recovery deleware

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